Local teams take home trophies at Roman Roast


Winning the Grand Champion title of your own hometown’s barbecue competition for the first time is an emotional moment for anyone. But for Michael Moore of Old Plantation BBQ, it was infinitely so.

Moore, amid applause, whoops and hollers, tearfully took his trophy from Roman Roast on the River organizer Betsy Hampson, turned to the audience and dedicated his win to his mother.

“I lost my mom at Christmas,” Moore said. “I told myself, if I could win a Grand this year, I want to honor my mother and dedicate my win to her. I won the championship and was able to dedicate the win to her on Mother’s Day weekend; it was just phenomenal for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Moore, who had just turned 60, said it was the best birthday present and Mother’s Day combined.

“I wanted to win my hometown (competition) ever since the Roman Roast started,” he said.  “I knew this weekend, if I could pull it off, how emotional it would be for me. I’m glad I had my sunglasses on onstage,” he added, chuckling.

Paul and Heather Casey of Diggin’ Que – also Rome natives – scored third place at Roman Roast.

“This was our fourth year coming to the Roman Roast,” he said. “We finished fourth last year overall, and we were wanting to do very good this year with it being our hometown. We were very happy with our finish.”

Casey said he and his wife got bitten by the competition cooking bug four years ago at another local event, and haven’t stopped since.

“We just fell in love with the competition and we started traveling. We make 18 to 25 competitions a year,” he said, adding that Diggin’ Que won a North Carolina championship and was also invited to the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational BBQ.

Moore, a 10-time championship winner, has competed in seven different states, and has been cooking professionally for six years. Being a Pro-team is not for the faint of heart, he said.

“In KCBS, being a professional cook, you’ve got to be 100 percent dedicated to what you’re doing,” Moore said. “Because there’s a lot of good teams out there at this day and time, and if you slip up even just a little bit, somebody’s going to get all over you and beat you. This weekend in Rome, there was a three-time champion, a two-time national champion … and to beat those kinds of teams, you have to be on your game at any particular time to achieve a Grand Championship.”

Moore offered advice to anyone looking to barbecue professionally:

“Even if you don’t think your cooking is where it needs to be, you don’t give up,” he said. “Until you close the lid on that box and put it down on the turn-in table, you don’t give up.”

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